The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has resolved to submit a proposal for maintaining the value of rice and ensuring food security to the chairman of the Economic and Financial Policy Committee.

The action comes in response to the ongoing decline of rice prices to 900 riel ($0.221) in some provinces.

Ministry secretary of state Yang Saing Koma said on February 27 that he had chaired a meeting of the Joint Working Group on Agricultural Price Coordination, held at the ministry and centred on evaluating the rice trade situation amid declining rice prices and the current state of food security.

He stated that the group examined the ongoing operations of local mills and rice exports to Vietnam, as well as the current harvest, and evaluated production at both the end of the dry season and the onset of the rainy season.

“The expert working group has been diligently monitoring and analysing the trends in rice prices and production costs. Our aim is to be prepared to assist in stabilising rice prices at a reasonable level and ensure that farmers receive a fair profit,” he explained.

Saing Koma noted that the total rice harvest nationwide during February and March for the dry season might reach approximately three million tonnes.

“Based on the ministry’s evaluation, although the [value of rice] has dipped slightly below 1,000 riel [$0.246] per kilogramme, it remains higher than in 2022. In 2023, prices saw a significant increase, driven by heightened demand in international markets amidst global food shortages,” he stated.

Chan Sokheang, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), commented that in a free market economy, prices fluctuate according to the mechanisms of supply and demand.

“Rice prices are subject to various factors, including the harvest season, total yield, moisture, drying capacity, harvest expenses and market demand,” he explained.

Nhek Sarith, a mill owner in Siem Reap’s Sotr Nikum district, stated that the price of rice on February 27 was 950 riel ($0.233) in the district, while the purchasing price from farmers stood at 900 riel ($0.221).

“The price of 900 riel, though marginally lower, still ensures profitability for our farmers ... Normally, we export rice to Vietnam, but when Vietnam also enters its harvest season, they typically lower their prices. However, sometimes the price drops excessively, adversely affecting our farmers’ profitability,” he noted.

According to the ministry, this year’s dry season rice production significantly exceeded expectations. While the initial plan accounted for only 500,000ha, the actual cultivation spanned nearly 800,000ha, leading to water shortages in some areas.

A report from the CRF indicated that rice exports to Vietnam in January amounted to nearly 600,000 tonnes, valued at over $184 million. Rice exports to Vietnam are ongoing, even as its prices have begun to decline.